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Oct 8, 2013 04:38 AM

Normandy report

We've just come back from a week in Normandy. We took a gite near Pont l'Eveque and did a lot of our own cooking, to take advantage of market shopping, so only ate a few meals out. Just as well, because in general, we had difficulty keeping to the strict mealtimes at restaurants.

1. Le P'tit Resto, Bayeux
We spent a great day in Bayeux, slowly going through the cathedral and tapestry sites. Then we stopped by Le P'tit Resto early in the evening to reserve a place for dinner, walked over to spend a bit of time at the British WWII cemetery and wandered back for dinner. All in all, we were slightly disappointed in the meal. Everything was fine, but not better than that. We both had salmon to start- it was okay. My main of sea bream was slightly overcooked for my taste, and the layer of bread and cheese between the two fillets of bream didn't do anything for me. My husband's main of sesame seed-covered confit chicken leg was huge! That must have been some chicken that it came from. His first response was that it was kind of dry. He did like the veggies and broth it came with. My dessert of strawberries with avocado cream cheese was...fine, mostly I liked it for the strawberries.

2. La Marine, Arromanches
Stopped here for lunch on our day visiting the D-day beaches. (As we'd had no internet the whole week, the first time I had any inkling of the US government shut-down was when we showed up at the US cemetery at Omaha Beach and it was closed!) I had a plate of the fruit de mer, which was very good. Oysters slightly anaemic, but tasted good. Crayfish were very good, as was the crab. Husband had bream- it was much, much better than my bream at Le P'tit Resto. My dessert of figs in a "soup" of Domfront poire, though, was excellent.

3. Le Galleon, Dieppe
Due to the inevitable industrial action, our ferry home from Le Havre was cancelled and we were re-directed to Dieppe. We got to Dieppe in time to have a leisurely lunch. The harbour-front restaurants were hopping, and we waited a bit for our table here. My starter of a seafood salad was fine, nothing special. Husband had a plate of different pork products, which he pronounced good. My main of moules frites was well done. Tasty! Husband had the fish of the day- cannot remember the French name the server told us, but it looked like plaice. This was cooked perfectly, was really good. My dessert of poire belle helene was huge, with coloured sprinkles on top! If I were 14, it would have made my day. Importantly, more than a couple of decades past that, I was still delighted because it tasted wonderful- chocolate- how could it have not: cream, pear, ice cream? If I hadn't been stuffed already, I'd have licked the bowl. As it is, I couldn't quite finish, but my husband had no problems finishing it for me, even after he'd eaten his ile flottante- singular, one huge ile!

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  1. Generally it sounds like your experience was quite mixed! I have very fond memories of my time in Normandy, ending up in a very traditional family run restaurant with a delicious steak.

    The best meal ever was with a Norman family barbecuing even more steak and washing it down with Calvados. Nice part of the world.

    5 Replies
    1. re: danweiss

      Our restaurant experience was mixed, yes, but to be fair, that was because we hadn't done our research. We had rented a self-catering place and expected to- and did- cook most of our meals ourselves. In addition, for whatever reasons (mostly our well-deserved holiday laziness, I suspect), we couldn't get our bodies scheduled into the strict French mealtimes. We wouldn't really be hungry for lunch until nearly two, and dinners were back at the gite.

      In contrast, our non-restaurant food experience was wonderful! Our ferry got into Le Havre early Saturday morning, so we shopped the market at Honfleur, and we went into Pont l'Eveque's market on Monday morning. Oh, the raw milk butter! The luscious cream ladled from a big bucket by the dairy stall! Crates of beautiful, absolutely beautiful looking mushrooms. We had at least two meals with mushrooms in cream sauce. And cider! And the best piece of seafood I had the whole time in Normandy was a shrimp (with its head on, as is proper) from the paella stall at the Pont l'Eveque market- fresh, it crunched wonderfully and was firm and sweet.

      And I won't mention the bread and pastries. (Probably contributed to us not being hungry for lunch!)

      1. re: Palladium

        The mushroom stand at the market in Honfleur is still my fav mushroom stand ever. Must have been 40 feet long with so many different mushrooms it was amazing. Remember got a bunch of trumpets de morte and pieds du mouton, wonderful memory. Cooked for a bunch that night in Liseaux.

        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          Trompettes-des-morts, pieds-de-mouton, Lisieux; everything else is OK ;-D

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            While not the mushroom stand, this will give you a taste of what a good market it is.

      2. We (Colette, meself and two 14 year olds) recently had a fantastic week in Normandy and it was not mixed but rather great. Granted we were staying with my oldest French friend (of 50 years) in her house, but we ate lunches out (in Rouen, Honfleur, Bayeaux and Caen) and suppers (largely seafood from the Deauville fish market).
        I'd go back in a flash.

        5 Replies
        1. re: John Talbott

          Would love to know which restaurants you went to!

          1. re: John Talbott


            I've always found your restaurant recommendations in Paris to be spot-on and very helpful. We're venturing to Normandy in September for the first time ever and would much appreciate your recommendations. I'm particularly interested in any advice regarding restaurants around Bayeaux or Port-en-Bessin as that is our home base during our stay.

            Thank you for all the help you've unknowingly given me in the past and for what I hope you can provide to make Normandy a more enjoyable experience for us as well.

            1. re: Traveling Boudreaux

              Sorry TB for the tardy reply, I had to go to NYC for a meeting and was out of touch.
              And thanks for your kind words.
              Our last trip to Normandy was June 2013 and the Bayeux meal at La Rapiere is below; others in the neighborhood are before and after.

              1. re: John Talbott


                I wanted to thank you for guiding us to La Rapiere. We took your advice and enjoyed an outstanding dinner while staying near Bayeux a few weeks ago. After 12 enjoyable days of dining in Provence, Normandy and Paris - La Rapiere stands out as one of our favorite meals of our trip.

                Thanks again!

                1. re: Traveling Boudreaux

                  Wow, such feedback is very helpful.
                  You are most welcome. One never knows if such a meal is one-off.

          2. A belated but big thank-you for your reporting back.
            Re the meal times in France, when we travel, we tend to have a much better experience if we adjust to the local culture instead of trying to get it to adjust to us.
            I like your lunch experience in Dieppe. You did not allow travel glitches to defeat you. Instead, you turned them into a bonus. My kinda traveler, bravo.

            1. Thanks for your trip report. This is quite helpful as I am researching for a possible trip to Normandy for a week in mid Dec, right before Noel. Because this will be my first trip there, I am concerned that many small towns and restaurants will close down for winter. Is this so? Or should we book ahead and go for it?